William King

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William King
William king.jpg
13th Vice-President of the United States
Term of office
March 4, 1853 - April 18, 1853
Political party Democratic
President Franklin Pierce
Preceded by Millard Fillmore
Succeeded by John C. Breckinridge
Born April 7, 1786
Sampson County, North Carolina
Died April 18, 1853
Selma, Dallas County, Alabama

For the former Prime Minister of Canada, see William Lyon Mackenzie King.

William Rufus deVane King (1786 - 1853) was Vice President under Franklin Pierce. King previously served as a US Representative from North Carolina from 1811-1816, when he resigned, and as Senator for the State of Alabama from 1819-1844.[1] A Jeffersonian Republican, then a Jacksonian Democrat, King served as President pro tempore of the Senate from 1835-1841, after which the Whigs retook control. He passed away from tuberculosis after only 45 days in office. He is the only Vice President to have been sworn in on foreign soil, as he was in Cuba for health reasons at the time of inauguration.

In 1818, King moved to Selma, Alabama, where he became a delegate to the State's organizing convention in 1819. He was a slaveholder and owner of a large plantation.[2]

During the mid 19th century, the Vice Presidency was not viewed upon negatively, as it came to be in the early 20th century.[3] At the time, the Vice President actually did preside over the Senate and the congenial King was viewed as ideal for the position. As his coughing worsened throughout the 1852 campaign, he went to Cuba hoping that the climate would help him regain his health. Congress then passed a one time law allowing King to be sworn in on foreign soil. A few weeks later he returned to Alabama, where he passed away on April 18, 1853, just six weeks after taking office. He was initially interred at his plantation. However, the Selma City Council wished for King, as one of the city's founders, to be interred within its limits and he was reinterred there in 1882.


  1. Official Congressional Biography
  2. Official Congressional Biography, ibid.
  3. Weekend America Special - Vice Presidents We Never Knew